Quarantine diaries: A nurse and daughter in waiting

CBC Montreal wants to know how you are living these days. What are you doing differently? Have you learned, realized or observed anything?

Here is our next instalment of our series, Quarantine diaries: Life in the time of COVID-19, written by Catherine-Anne Miller, a nursing professor at McGill University.

As a nursing professor at McGill, I am working tirelessly to adapt a clinical course to an online environment, while guiding my school-aged children in learning, and preventing them from injuring each other. The goal is to graduate a cohort of nursing students with the skills and expertise to contribute rapidly to the health-care system.

Reaching that goal has meant frequent night shifts, developing new online material, grading, providing feedback, and alleviating the anxieties of future nurses so close to hitting the ground – a ground that is uncertain and full of risk. I feel comforted that this is my greatest contribution to the crisis – my work collaboratively creates a whole new generation of highly trained, expert nurses, new blood in the crisis of our generation.

As I painstakingly get these students out the door, I am waiting to take out my own scrubs from storage and put my expertise to support the crisis clinically. We have been discussing adapting our living circumstances to account for the risks involved, including possibly separating our family, to protect the ones I love.

I am also a daughter in waiting. My beloved father is dying. He has the telltale signs of the virus. He couldn’t be tested as soon as these symptoms reared their evil head; there were not enough tests to go around in his CHSLD over the weekend. We had to wait. As a daughter and a nurse, I would have been by his side as soon as he took a turn for the worse, but I am waiting.

I struggle to get news. I call throughout the day, but no one answers. They are doing the best they can with little staff. I wake up at 3 a.m. to call, the only time I can speak to a tired, but compassionate nurse who updates me so that I can update my family, who are also all waiting.

I wait in a surreal world. I wait for news and to step in. I wait for the nurses I am creating to make me proud. We all wait.

Catherine-Anne Miller

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